VSP assisting with search for missing boaters; Coast Guard ends rescue attempts

Image courtesy of WAVY

UPDATE: Virginia State Police’s Search & Recovery Team are assisting with the ongoing search for the missing duck hunters last seen near the James River Wednesday. State Police will assist the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conversation Police with the search, according to the police department’s Facebook page.

The news comes a day after the Coast Guard officially suspended their search for the missing men.

Virginia State Police

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JAMESTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — The U.S. Coast Guard is suspending its search for two boaters who went missing along the James River.

Wednesday night at 7 p.m., 29-year-old Kyle Englehart and 20-year-old Austin Savage launched Kyle’s 16-foot boat to go and fix Kyle’s duck blind across the James River.

They both were experienced outdoorsmen, so Kyle’s family was surprised they tried to make the trip with threatening blizzard conditions approaching.

We contacted Kyle’s brother Kameron by phone. “He probably wanted to fix his duck blind, and it was up before the storm hit,” Kameron said. “That’s all we can think. He is a smart guy. I don’t know why they would have done this.”

The two men traveled from the Jamestown Yacht Basin marina through a marsh area, finding their way to the James River. They went immediately across the James to Gray’s Creek to the duck blind, because investigators told the families they found footprints.

Then they apparently started back to the marina. Kameron thinks he knows what happened next, and an investigator indicated to us it is possible.

Kyle Englehart

“The boat flipped because of the wind,” Kameron said. “We are just hoping they made it to the shore and are somehow still alive. I think it was the storm that got the best of them.”

Kameron says the investigators told the families that they think both men were alive at 11:38 Wednesday night as the snow storm was hitting.

“They said the phone pinged the cell tower, and that was the last time the phone was on…that’s when they hit the water,” Kameron said. It was only Kyle’s phone that pinged, and then his overturned boat was found on Hog Island on Thursday.

It is clear that the distances didn’t make sense for the trip that was made.

Kyle Englehart’s truck and boat trailer are seen still parked at the marina.

Kameron realizes that too. He says the investigators “were hypothesizing it was three miles from the truck where they have to get back to…it’s not good. We are not doing good. We are not doing good at all. At this point we just need to have them to be alive,” Kameron said.

Sadly, the search, which the Coast Guard suspended, has become a recovery effort.

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